Mining magnate and entrepreneur Clive Palmer has criticised the tendency for private practice law firms to send the fees ahead of their legal advice.
Speaking at the annual Australian Corporate Lawyers Association (ACLA) Conference at his resort in Coolum, Palmer said he wished that the first thing he received from firms was not their cost, but rather, how they could assist. “Shakespeare said ‘First we kill all the lawyers’. But I think he was just referring to their fees,” said Palmer.
However, not all lawyers received scorn from Palmer. He spoke highly of his in-house team and in particular Baljeet Singh, legal director at Mineralogy. “In-house lawyers have an important role to play in the critical developments at their company,” said Palmer. “They are more than lawyers, they are confidants.”
He added: “Private practice lawyers are not as good as you [in-house lawyers]; because they can’t work for companies.”
Indeed, Palmer thinks so highly of his in-house team and Singh that he has appointed her as the global director for his Titanic II Project. Singh will oversee the project, being undertaken by Palmer’s Blue Star Line, to reconstruct the famous vessel by 2016. "Since we announced our plan in April we've had a huge amount of interest, particularly from people wanting to know how they can secure a booking for the maiden voyage, along with commercial sponsors," said Palmer of the project.
Palmer’s ability to replicate the famous vessel, which sunk on its maiden voyage 100 years ago, is also because of his in-house lawyers. According to Palmer, Hollywood director James Cameron - who made the film Titanic in 1997 - only secured the trademark rights to the name Titanic for films, allowing Palmer’s Blue Star Line to now own all other trademarks for the name Titanic and Titanic II. Palmer said Cameron’s legal counsel did not do their job properly, which has allowed him to proceed with the project. “I don’t think he was a real in-house lawyer,” said Palmer. “I think he was a secondee.”
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